Senate changes course policy on retakes


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Photo by Dennis Zuraw |

Martha Cotter, co-chair of the Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions Committee, presents a report to the Rutgers University Senate recommending for the University to allow students to retake courses when they receive a D.


The Rutgers University Senate voted Friday to send advice to President Robert L. Barchi about allowing students to retake courses they receive a grade of a D in, and although the D would still appear on students’ transcripts, it would no longer figure into their GPA.

Martha Cotter, co-chair of the Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions Committee, presented a report at the meeting in the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus to call for a policy change that would treat a D like an F.

As per the old policy, only students who receive an F in a course could retake it for a new grade. Students are now able to replace up to four D’s or F’s.

Sam Berman, Rutgers University Student Assembly senator, disagreed with the policy of students only being able to fail a course four times, believing they should have more opportunities to retake courses.

Photo: Dennis Zuraw

Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi discusses the New Brunswick Campus Report with the senate. The senate changed course policies at Friday’s meeting.

“If someone is doing poorly because of a traumatic situation, they’re not going to go to the dean about it,” said Berman, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “That’s why students should be able to replace up to five or six grades.”

According to the committee report, the ASRAC debated not allowing grade replacement. Some committee members thought students should not have this option, while others thought students should only be able to replace grades before they reached a certain number of credits at the University.

Robert Boikess, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, spoke out against giving students more chances to replace failing grades.

“Substantial data indicates policies like do-overs negatively impact student performances,” he said. “We know if you are able to get a do-over, you are more likely to mess up.”

The policy puts undue emphasis on calculating GPA that would not mean much after Rutgers puts this new rule in place, he said.

The senate’s final vote was to keep the number of D’s or F’s that can be replaced at a maximum of four, regardless of the other options discussed.

As part of the same report, Cotter, a chemistry professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, presented another recommendation saying students should be barred from registering for classes that they have failed two or more times.

“There are students who have failed organic chemistry seven times, finally passing on the eighth time,” she said. “We quickly agreed that allowing the student to continue taking a course without advising is clearly not in the student’s best interest.”

The report states that in order for a student to register for a class he or she has failed two or more times, the student must seek approval from either the instructor of the course or an advisor designated by the course’s department.

Upon approval of this recommendation, Cotter said courses that students tend to fail would be considered in setting up a screening process that would not drastically slow down the system during registration.

Along with the grade replacement policy, the senate changed the policy on withdrawing from a course with a W.

“Engineering students have a month longer to withdraw with a W than [School of Arts and Sciences] students, but they can still be enrolled in the same course,” Cotter said.

The senate voted to allow each school at the University determine the deadline to withdrawal from their respective courses with a W, as opposed to leaving withdrawal deadlines the responsibility of the school in which an individual student is enrolled.

Correction: A previous version of the article failed to mention that the University Senate voted on sending advice to President Robert L. Barchi.


By Erin Walsh

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